There is a problem with the smart home industry — in fact, a lot of problems. And after a huge boom over the past few years, SmartHome as a whole has reached a kind of plateau.
Don’t get us wrong; SmartHome technology is a truly exciting market and has become so popular that big players like Amazon and Google have been the first to offer comprehensive SmartHome product lines. The fact is that SmartHome as a whole still has a long way to go.
SmartHome standards are a mess
The smart home industry is fragmented. Each SmartHome brand wants to create its own proprietary ecosystem, whereby you can choose from a variety of products, but they won’t necessarily work with each other if you have devices from different companies.
This, of course, was to be expected. Every manufacturer loves the idea of a walled garden allowing users to use their devices. But from a consumer perspective, it may not be possible to go all-in on one brand of SmartHome devices. For example, maybe you win a lot on a Nest thermostat but really can’t afford other Nest products, especially when similar devices from other brands are much cheaper in a competitive market like this one.
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Obviously, all your products will work on their own, but nothing will be centralized. And the inability to control everything from one place takes away a lot of convenience.
Perhaps even more of a mess are all the different wireless protocols used in the smart home industry. The two big ones are Z-Wave and Zigbee. These are known as «open» protocols that any SmartHome brand can use in their devices. In theory, any Z-Wave device should be able to communicate with any other Z-Wave device. Except sometimes it doesn’t.
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You often encounter SmartHome hubs or other devices that use Z-Wave or Zigbee, but they won’t connect to each other. Or, if they do, they have limited functionality. So, for example, if you have a SmartThings or Wink hub, they have Z-Wave and Zigbee radios, but they don’t support just any Z-Wave or Zigbee device.
Instead, when you go shopping for Z-Wave sensors or Zigbee smart bulbs, you have to double check to make sure they work with your specific SmartHome hub, which can be a real pain because it’s usually not easy to say it straight out. for packing. Instead, you should look at the reviews to see if other users have successfully connected it to their hub or not.
This can be very frustrating and is one of the main reasons why SmartHome is still a more confusing market than it needs to be.
SmartHome gadgets are still too expensive
One thing is for sure: SmartHome devices don’t come cheap. Sure, there are budget options if you look closely enough, but even with the cheapest SmartHome technology, you’ll still pay a few hundred dollars for a low-device setup. And if you want to get serious about SmartHome, you’re looking to spend much more.
Consumer electronics in general are not cheap, but while a smartphone or tablet can be extremely useful and well worth the price (to the point where it becomes a necessity in everyday life), smarthome devices can be a little different in this regard.
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Many people who are interested in the smart home industry are wary of spending money on something they might not get a ton of value from. Somewhat helpful? Of course. Comfortable? Maybe. But spending $250 on a smart thermostat that just gives you extra convenience might make some potential buyers think twice.
With that said, SmartHome products need to either get cheaper (which is likely to rise as technology advances) or companies need to get better at convincing users that what they’re buying is just as good as the high price.
Voice control is all the rage, but it needs work
Amazon Echo and Google Home have become staples in the smart home world, allowing users to control their smart home simply by using their voice.
It’s certainly a lot better than controlling things from your smartphone, where you have to open an app and navigate through buttons to find what you’re looking for, but voice control has its own issues that aren’t yet quite the de facto method of controlling devices. smart home.
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Both Amazon and Google are doing a decent job of improving their respective voice assistant platforms to make managing SmartHome devices more natural, but you still need to be very careful when naming your devices so that Alexa or Google Assistant doesn’t get confused.
And there are a lot of tweaks you need to make to perfect your voice commands and make voice control a seamless experience. Many new smart home users entering the market don’t quite understand this yet, which is why they get frustrated when Alexa doesn’t execute certain commands. Even as a die-hard smarthome user, I’m still learning.
In other words, voice assistants are smart, but you have to teach them not to be stupid in the first place.
In general, Smarthome is still a very young technology.
While the popularity of SmartHome devices has skyrocketed, it’s important to note that the technology is still in its teens and still needs to mature. It feels like we are still in the experimental stage before the next big boom.
With that said, it’s no surprise that the smart home industry is in a lot of trouble right now. Some of these issues will eventually get fixed, but others probably won’t — unfortunately the market will still be fragmented as companies want to force you to only buy their products.
Sure, there are plenty of these proprietary ecosystems to choose from as more and more companies start offering their own SmartHome products, but once you pick a specific brand, you’re stuck there unless you want to trade in some convenience.